The Pilgrims would have sailed beyond Plymouth Rock, but their beer was all used up.
Served at the first Thanksgiving meal in 1621 were lobster, roasted pigeon, eel, stuffed cod, turkeys, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, popcorn and cranberry sauce. But, it was not a dinner. There were 92 native Americans at this breakfast.
Evidently the Pilgrims had a unique gadget that was used in church to keep members of the congregation awake. It was a wooden ball on a string. It was used to bop people on the head who were drifting off during the seven-hour-long sermons.
In 1811 and 1812, three monstrous earthquakes, probably measuring a full 10 on the Richter scale, struck in America. They did not happen in San Francisco, or even the remote mountains of California, but in the remote hills of the middle latitude, eastern United States – Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. The reason few people know of these earthquakes is that none of them caused much destruction to manmade structures, since there were few structures nearby to damage. Is it safer to live in the eastern United States than California? Many scientists say no. Every state in the Union has had earthquakes.
In the early 1800s, marijuana was Kentucky’s number one crop. It was legal then. People did not smoke it. Marijuana was used for its fiber, called hemp, which was used in ships’ sails, rope, twine, paper and canvas.
For the first 19 years Crayola Crayons were produced, they came in only one color – black.
In 1637, one out of every four shops in New York City were taverns.
There used to be a state in America named Kanawha. It was later renamed West Virginia.
After marrying a promising young physician in 1867, Carry Nation was horrified to see her husband destroy his career and his life after only two years. He drank himself to death. Mrs. Nation was so disgusted with alcohol that she smashed up over 30 drinking establishments. This six-foot-tall woman would enter a bar and with such frenzy that all the male patrons ran in fright; she broke all the bottles and much of the furniture with rocks, bricks and hatchets.
By 1790, the population of Philadelphia, the largest city in America, had grown to 42,444.
In the mid 1770’s David Bushnell, an inventive guy, created the world’s first attack submarine. Using whiskey barrel technology, he made a watertight clamshell-shaped vehicle with barely enough room for one man. The thing, nicknamed the Turtle, was placed in New York Harbor one night containing Sgt. Ezra Lee, a 45-year-old man who was stronger than the frail inventor. He had two hand-operated propeller vanes, one for forward travel, the other for directional control.
Sgt. Lee cranked his way toward the British flagship of Admiral Richard Howe, called the Eagle. David Bushnell provided for instrument guidance in the underwater darkness, even though it was 1776 and electric lighting was still 100 years into the future. Inventor Bushnell’s solution was ingenious. He lit the primitive instruments, a compass and a depth gauge, with foxfire, a moss that glows in the dark. Still, navigation was difficult, because it was cold in the Turtle, and therefore the foxfire was dim. Ezra Lee missed the battleship entirely and cranked himself out to sea. Realizing his error just in time, he cranked furiously against the tide and finally arrived under the ship. Now it was time to do his dirty work.
The plan was to turn a crank mounted in the ceiling of the Turtle, which would screw an eye-hook into the underside of the Eagle. Attached to the hook was a bomb. After several attempts at attaching the bomb, Ezra finally realized it couldn’t be done. The ship was probably coated in copper plating to keep barnacles from growing on the ship, and the hook wouldn’t drill into the ship. (Historians are not sure about why the bomb couldn’t be attached, this is their theory.)
Dawn was coming, and Sgt. Lee had to get away quickly before he would be discovered. Again, he cranked furiously, but some sailors on the ship saw him. Realizing he was in trouble, he released the bomb, which floated to the surface and blew up harmlessly. But it saved his life. The ship’s men had never seen anything like the Turtle and weren’t even sure it was a human-invented thing. It might be a monster, or a monster’s creation. After the little explosion, they were truly afraid. And Ezra Lee sailed to harbor, his submarine was opened, and he was safe.
This was the first and last submarine voyage of the 18th century. David Bushnell was quite fascinated with inventions and explosive things in particular. He devoted his mental efforts to the war, but his creations never made any serious contributions. Once, some soldiers found a strange barrel floating in the water. They rowed out to it in a little boat and pulled it out of the water. On the contraption they found gears turning. This would be unusual by today’s standards, but truly weird back in 1776. At about the time they made this observation, the time bomb exploded, killing three of the men and injuring some others. It was supposed to have floated up to a place where several enemy ships were docked and blow them up, but the men intercepted it. This was the only one of Mr. Bushnell’s inventions that came anywhere close to working right.
During the summer of 1893 Chicago hosted a large fair called the Colombian Exhibition. There were approximately 75 million Americans then, and one out of every three Americans visited that exhibition.
The world’s first Ferris wheel was built in Chicago for the Colombian Exposition in 1893. Modern Ferris wheels are just little-bitty things compared to that one. It was taller than 50 men standing on each other’s shoulders (as tall as a 10-story building) and each “chair” was a coach which could hold 40 people. Between May 1 and November 1, 27 million people were treated to wonderful displays of modern science at the exposition such as brilliant electric night lighting by George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.
One of the first streetcars in San Francisco was made to look like a horse, so its high speed (8 mph) and noisy characteristics would not frighten horses pulling carriages and carts.
In the 1700’s some people had tooth transplants, having donors’ teeth jammed into sockets in their own jaws. Later, Waterloo teeth, extracted from dead soldiers after the battle of Waterloo in 1815 were made into dentures.
The first typewriter patented in America was called, “Burt’s Family Letter Press.”
California belongs to Great Britain. In 1579 Sir Francis Drake landed near Laguna Beach and met with the Indians who lived there. They thought he was a god and gave him all their land. He made a brass plaque decreeing California as property of the Queen. In 1933 a man found the plaque in the sand and took it home as a piece of scrap metal. Four years later, still having no idea that the plate with the faint old English lettering was anything of value, he junked it on the beach north of San Francisco. Then another man found it and took it to his home for possible car repair material. Fortunately, he had experts examine the lettering and discovered he had England’s deed to California.
The head of National Cash Register Company once smashed up a cash register on stage with an ax because he thought the salesmen attending his meeting weren’t paying attention.
The governor of New York in 1702 was a transvestite who frequently wore women’s clothing in public. Some people assumed that when the Queen of England asked him to represent her in the colonies, he took her request literally.
The Erie County Public Library has had half of Mark Twain’s original manuscript of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” since the late 1800’s, but where was the other half? It has been discovered just recently. Almost like a cliche, it was found in an old trunk in an attic. This attic belonged to the late James Fraser Gluck, who was a benefactor of the library while he was alive. Evidently, Twain sent the manuscript to him for the library, but he held half of it to complete reading at home, then forgot about it.
Christopher Columbus spent less money coming to the New World than it costs the average American to buy a new car today.
Historians think the ships that Christopher Columbus used were smaller than is generally depicted. They were probably between 60 to 80 feet long and 18 to 25 feet wide. Little is known about these three ships, because Columbus did not write about their physical details in his journals. He already knew what they looked like.
America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, who map maker Martin Waldseemuller mistakenly thought was Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of North America. Vespucci discovered South America.
The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were the result of the pranks of a bunch of teenage girls. Some people of the town started saying that the girls might be “bewitched.” When the adults seriously wanted to know who had bewitched them, these girls named about 150 random residents of the community. Twenty-two “witches” were killed, mostly by hanging.
In Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence, he included a proposal to put an end to slavery. Other politicians forced him to delete that portion in the final draft.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence: 26 were lawyers, 8 were merchants, 6 were doctors, 7 were farmers, 1 was a printer, 2 were military men, 1 was a minister, 1 was a shoemaker, 1 was a sailor, 1 was a surveyor, 2 were politicians, 0 were women.
John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence was very large, resulting in the modern term “put your John Hancock” which means to sign something. His signature on other documents was rather large too, but he had a particular reason for writing big on the Declaration. Signing the Declaration was an act of considerable bravery, because it would be seen by the King of England as high treason. He wanted King George III, who was farsighted, to be able to see his signature clearly.
Paul Revere never completed the ride for which he is so famous. Soon after he started, he was asked to turn around and go home by a British soldier. Paul Revere had 16 children.
Paul Revere would have not tried his famous (but incomplete) ride, had he not been paid to do so. He was a mercenary.
Dimes were originally pronounced “deems.”
Only one out of twenty Americans lived it cities in 1790. It is approximately the other way around today.
One of the United States used to be called Franklin. The name was changed in 1796 to Tennessee.
George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson all played marbles. In that era the game of marbles was fashionable among adults.
During the War of 1812 Samuel Wilson, a butcher in Troy, New York, shipped pork to the Army in kegs stamped “U.S.” People called him Uncle Sam. Samuel Wilson did not look like the man we think of as Uncle Sam. The man who posed for the original paintings of “Uncle Sam” was really Dan Rice, a professional clown. He owned a pet pig and worked for what later became the Barnum and Bailey Circus, then went on to found his own circus. He ran for the American presidency as a Republican and lost.
The man who started the California gold rush, James Marshall, after a first small strike, was able to find no other gold for himself, and died a penniless alcoholic.
Although there were some women employed in each of these trades a hundred years ago, they were less than one in a million:
Men Per Women
One Out of Women Lumbermen 65,829 28 2,351 2,250,000 Quarrymen 37,628 30 1,254 2,100,000 Wood Choppers 33,665 32 1,052 1,968,750 Architects 8,048 22 366 2,863,636 Building Engineers 139,718 47 2,973 1,340,425 Livery-Stable Keepers 26,719 48 557 1,312,500 Train Engineers/Firemen 79,459 4 19,864 15,750,000 Sailors 55,875 29 1,927 2,172,413 Blacksmiths 205,256 59 3,479 1,067,796 Coopers (Barrel Makers) 47,435 54 878 1,166,666 Masons (Brick & Stone) 158,874 4 3782 1,500,000 Ship and Boat Builders 22,929 3 7,643 2,100,000 Steam Boiler Makers 21,272 6 3,545 10,500,000
There were 205,256 men working as blacksmiths in 1890, and 59 women. Less than one in a million women were blacksmiths. The percentage of women who are blacksmiths is nearly the same today. But now the reason is because there are so few blacksmiths in general.
The Sears catalog and other mail-order outfits affected the easy prosperity for the rural general stores. In some places the local merchants would trade with the children of the community. They’d offer one movie ticket for every Sears or Montgomery Ward catalog the kids could bring. Then these merchants would have big bonfires to burn all the catalogs.
From the Sears Catalog, 1897
Mr. Roebuck was originally a watchmaker that Mr. Sears hired. They were opposites, Sears a promoter, Roebuck a conservative, careful man. They got along well and became partners. After a while Roebuck sold out for $25,000 because he didn’t agree with the frantic expansion of the company. He invented a typewriter and invested the proceeds of the typewriter income in Florida real estate. He lost everything in the crash of 1929. He showed up at the Sears employment office looking for any work at all. He was hired as a “celebrity” to cut ribbons at grand openings, etc.
At the age of 44 Mr. Sears retired with over $17 million.
At one time, you could buy a mail order barn from Sears. The largest model was 10,000 square feet, not counting the loft.
Why are most barns red? Red was the cheapest color of paint. Why was red paint the cheapest? Red paint was the cheapest color, because that was the color made in the largest quantities, since everybody ordered red for their barns.
There were 4,000 slaves in Pennsylvania in the year 1780.
At one time in America, approximately one out of every six people were slaves. At other times the figure dropped to one out of every eight people.
The Mexican term for Americans, “gringos,” came from a song that cowboys often sang, called “Green Grow the Lilacs.”
The $ was originally equipped with not one, but two vertical lines. Sometimes you still see it used that way. The two vertical lines represented a U superimposed over the S, which stand for U.S., the United States. The United States is the only country that incorporates its own name into its monetary symbol.
Pacific Power and Gas, the largest electric utility in America, was founded by George Roe, a guy who had to collect the collateral on a bad debt: a generator.
In the first phone company, the four operators had to remember the names of about 200 customers. When John Smith wanted to call Tom Hardin, for instance, the operator knew which plug to put in which hole. When two of the four operators became sick with the measles, the doctor, who was also a part owner of the phone company, suggested numbering the customers so that temporary operators who didn’t know all the customers by name, could work the system. This is how phone numbers came to be.
One elderly woman related this story: “We didn’t used to dial phones. You would crank the phone in a code. Ours was two short and two long. Every neighbor had their own code. You dialed a short with about a half-turn of the crank, and a long was about a full turn. “Music was such a novelty, that sometimes one of the rare neighbors who had a phonograph would dial four longs, which was the signal for everyone on the line to pull down their receivers and listen. They would then wind up the Victrola and everyone would listen in wonder to the music. Of course, only one person in every family could listen to the receiver at a time, so everyone would take turns holding the thing to their ears, while the others in the family gathered around eagerly awaiting their turn.”
People didn’t really understand early telephones. Therefore, one advertisement stated: “Its employment necessitates no skilled labor, no technical education, and no special attention.” This was in contrast to so much home equipment of the era. If you had a camera, for instance, you had to have your own darkroom to develop your pictures. You needed to know chemistry to mix your own developing chemicals. There was no one to send your film (actually individual glass plates) to for development. You had to do it yourself. Later, Kodak developed a camera in which you could send the film to the factory for developing, but the film was sealed into the camera. You had to send the whole camera to Kodak to get your pictures developed. Still later, when automobiles were invented, you didn’t get one unless you felt yourself rather competent in mechanical work, because repairs were constantly necessary. Often you had to repair your car several times in one trip. I talked with one old timer who told me about a 100-mile trip in a “tin lizzy” (Ford Model T) during which he had to stop seven times to patch flat tires.
Early in the history of telephones, there were about 300 competing phone companies in America. You could call only the people who did business with the same company as you.
The first phone booths were in a building in Connecticut. An attendant stood near to take the money.
One out of every six draftees for World War II were disqualified due to mental illness.
Everyone knows that gasoline was rationed during World War II, but few know how severely. People were allowed three gallons per week. Tell me, even with a modern, fuel-efficient car, could you get by on that?
Fifteen million Americans joined the armed forces during WWII. One out of every 50 were women (300,000). Since so many men were participating in the war, many women did jobs that had previously been considered men’s work. It was not uncommon to find female welders, garbage collectors, truck drivers, and general laborers during the early 1940’s.
In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, children across America were trained in school to seek shelter during air raid drills. They were also taught to put thick books on their heads and bite erasers to protect against falling ceilings.
During WW II, farmers were paid to grow marijuana because good rope could be made from it. The rope made from marijuana, called hemp in this case, is stronger and more rot-resistant than all other natural fibers.
One out of every four of the American submariners didn’t make it back alive from WWII. Three out of four of the German submariners didn’t make it back alive.
Adolf Hitler owned 8,960 acres in Colorado.
Until 1958 you could mail a first-class letter for three cents.
Do you remember the video business in the year 1981? It was only sixteen years ago. An inexpensive VCR sold for $1200, movies rented for $4.95 each!
In the ten years between 1946 and 1956 television sets in American homes jumped from a total of 10,000 to 28 million.
The Dow-Jones average was never higher than 1000 until 1972. On November 14, 1972, it broke 1000 with 1003.16.